Your leader (Don’t ask the DoH where the NHS is going, GP, 29 September) claims that I have revealed that the ‘15 per cent lid on private involvement in the NHS is to be officially scrapped’.
There has never been a 15 per cent lid or target for private-sector involvement.
My predecessor John Reid predicted that, during his lifetime, private-sector provision of elective operations was unlikely to go above 15 per cent.
I have said repeatedly that our estimate is that, over the current wave of central procurement, independent-sector treatment centres will be doing around 8 per cent of these operations. But it is patients who will choose where they go.
Private-sector involvement in the NHS is nothing new. I recently opened a new health centre in Middlesbrough complete with GP practice, pharmacy, PCT-provided physiotherapists, district nurses and other community services, minor surgery and much else besides. The centre is wholly owned by a private company whose shareholders are the partners in the GP practice. Some will call that privatisation (though presumably not GP). I call it getting the best for NHS patients in a disadvantaged community.
Practice-based commissioning gives GPs a huge opportunity to work with hospital and PCT colleagues to redesign services to get the best care for patients. That is why I stressed that GPs and other commissioners, with their patients, will increasingly decide where the NHS goes, not ministers in London.
Secretary of state for health